A green alternative to air pistons
Sapa Profiles has worked closely with Direct Thrust Designs Ltd to provide the extrusions for a game-changing piston for the automation market. Powered by electricity rather than compressed air, ‘ElectroPiston’ greatly reduces energy consumption and running costs.
ElectroPiston is the first purpose-made piston that is a viable and low cost alternative to air pistons for providing end-to-end forced linear motion. It uses electro-magnetism to create a smooth, continuous force for industrial applications requiring a push/pull motion.
Sapa Profiles has been supplying Direct Thrust for over 10 years with extrusions for a sister product. When Direct Thrust began work on this new breed of piston, they briefly considered approaching other producers of aluminium profiles, but quickly decided that Sapa’s expertise meant that they were the perfect partner for this demanding, but exciting, project.
The “thrust rod”, the moving part of the ElectroPiston, contains specific permanent magnets; the stationary part of the piston, known as the “thrust block”, contains electric coils. The thrust block is formed from the aluminium extrusion manufactured by Sapa Profiles. When electricity is passed through the coils in the thrust block, this creates a strong magnetic field. This field interacts with the magnets housed within the thrust rod to produce a forceful linear movement. The direction of the movement of the rod is governed by the direction of the flow of the electric current. The force of the backwards and forwards movement is proportional to the strength of the current and, for a given current, is equal in both directions.
The new piston is silent, hygienic, and economic to run and comes in a comprehensive range suitable for a wide range of applications. It is a valuable development for many industries including food processing, packaging, medical and automotive. The range has been designed to meet the needs of industrial automation, providing thrusts from less than a kilogram force to 28.7 kilogram force (equivalent to 282N).
Hugh-Peter Kelly of Direct Thrust comments “Sapa Profiles is renowned for its excellence as an extruder. Extruding our pistons to tight tolerances was an essential part of their operational success and it was essential therefore that Sapa met the exact tolerances we required. Through close work with the engineering teams from both parties, Sapa succeeded in produced amazingly accurate aluminium extrusions for our product and we cannot praise them highly enough”.
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